Northern Ireland news

Six Northern Ireland fans injured as violence breaks out at bar in Nice

Northern Ireland fans were injured after violence broke out in Nice on Saturday evening. Picture by Emeline Combi
John Monaghan

THE owner of a bar in Nice has spoken about the trouble that left six Northern Ireland fans injured.

Football supporters were caught up in clashes outside an Irish pub in Nice on Saturday.

Police blamed a group of up to 30 French hooligans for initiating the violence, outside the pub where both Northern Ireland fans and Polish supporters had spent the evening drinking and singing together.

According to police, around 12 Northern Ireland fans responded to the violence, which saw bottles thrown and punches exchanged, and one was arrested.

One Polish fan was also injured in the disorder.

The main daily newspaper in Nice, Nice-Matin, quoted the bar owner as also laying the blame for the disorder at a group of French hooligans.

Up until their arrival at the bar, the atmosphere had been good-natured, according to Christopher Soques, owner of Ma Nolan's.

Earlier on Saturday, the bar had put up a Facebook post expressing that its main concern was that it might run out of alcohol.

"Some Polish supporters came and joined up with the Northern Ireland fans. They were playing football, dancing, singing... There were also some women and children there...it was a really good atmosphere," said Mr Soques.

Around 11pm, following the end of the England v Russia game, which had finished in a 1-1 draw in Marseille, things took a turn for the worse.

"A small group of French people arrived. They entered into the middle of the Northern Ireland and Polish supporters. They surrounded them in a circle and began singing," said the bar owner.

Mr Soques said the first object thrown came from the French group, and windows were broken and damage caused to nearby businesses in the ensuing trouble.

"It didn't last very long. Perhaps two or three minutes. Police intervened very quickly to disperse people.

"We did everything so that things would go well. We handed out drinks in plastic glasses. The glass bottles didn't come from us. It's a shame that a small group of people have given out a bad image."

PSNI Supterintendent Nigel Goddard, who is in Nice as part of the policing operation, said: "It's clear to me that the Nice fans provoked this incident, but a number of Northern Ireland fans did respond."

Adam Carr, one of the Northern Ireland fans injured in the trouble, said people in hooded tops "stormed the crowd" and then threw bottles.

"The bottles were coming over the top and I was trying to get out of the way of them, trying to back into the bar," he told the BBC.

"After a couple of minutes I realised [one had] sliced me, I was dripping with blood - I had to go to hospital and got four stitches."

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